Frog photobombs NASA launch
Here's something you don't see every day.
A frog was caught on camera during the launch of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Va., on Friday.
Jeremy Eggers, a spokesman for the facility, confirmed the veracity of the image of the airborne frog captured by NASA’s remote cameras.
"The photo team confirms the frog is real and was captured in a single frame by one of the remote cameras used to photograph the launch," NASA said. "The condition of the frog, however, is uncertain."
The launch pad, Eggers explained to UniverseToday.com, includes a pool from "the high-volume water deluge system that activates during launches to protect the pad from damage and for noise suppression," which is likely where the frog was before the ignition of the Minotaur 5 rocket.
The spaceport sits on a wildlife refuge that mainly comprises a salt marsh and woodlands and contains habitat for a variety of species, including frogs and migratory birds. NASA says the relationship between its 3,000-acre facility and wildlife on the island is mutually beneficial:
NASA’s launch facilities, roads, and facilities take up a small percentage of the area. The rest of the area remains undeveloped and provides excellent habitat for wildlife. During launches, short term disturbance occurs in the immediate vicinity of the launch pads, but the disturbance is short-lived allowing space launches and a wildlife habitat to coexist.
Of course it's not the first time an animal has interrupted — or been interrupted by — a NASA launch. In 2005, a turkey vulture hit a fuel tank during the launch of STS-114. In 2009, a test launch of the SpaceX Grasshopper startled a herd of cows.